ISSUE: Illegal Sand Mining in the rivers of Kodagu
Problem and Implications
Sand is increasingly mined from river beds as the demand for sand in industries and construction grows by the day. It is adversely affecting the ecology in and around the rivers of Kodagu. Continuous extraction of sand from riverbanks makes the area uneven and massive gaps are developed. This leads to mechanical disturbance in the habitat of the fishes thus leading to high mortality in their early life stages.
It has been observed that the migratory patterns of aquatic species are altered due to physical and thermal changes at/below the extraction sites. Not just that, mining also alters the form and structure of the channels by making them wider and shallower. Other implications are rise in temperature, decrease in nutrients and decrease in food production in the rivers. Fisheries are destroyed, causing problems for people who rely on fishing for their livelihood.
History: A change from an agrarian economy to one that is more commercially oriented has created countless concrete jungles. This in turn has also spiked up the demand for raw materials required for construction; primarily sand. Rivers bring down sand from the hills to low lying areas. This makes the job simpler for a sand miner who extracts voluminous amounts of sand from these areas. What started as a simple process of removal of sand from certain sand beds has now become a widespread activity fuelled by greed and propelled by marauding machines.
Current Scenario: The underlying problem today is this: Sand is being removed at a much faster rate than what it is being deposited at. Suction devices can plumb large volumes of sands from any depth in rivers. Sand collected in the post monsoon period is later sold at unimaginably high prices.
Role of CWS
To put an end to the menace, CWS repeatedly requested the concerned authorities to regulate sand mining in the leased river stretches. But this attempt has been futile. Hence, CWS sought intervention from the Honorable High Court of Karnataka by filing a writ. petition to stall the granting of mining lease for extraction of sand from river Cauvery. This further resulted in the state government not granting any lease for mining in future to any private party.
In spite of this, sand mining activities continue in these river stretches to this day. The CWS is in constant touch with the Department of Mines and Geology to curtail this menace.